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Chief stops road rage incident

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By Carol A. Clark

While driving along N.M. 4 near Karen Circle early Tuesday afternoon, Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy came upon a scene resembling something out of an action movie.
A truck was parked in the middle of the highway and the driver was wielding a 3-foot-long metal jack handle and waving it in the air. Torpy then caught sight of a cyclist who was clutching his bicycle in front of himself in a protective manner against the threatened blows from the rod.
“The basic rules of civility apply and you don’t want to threaten the lives of others even if you’re having a dispute with somebody about vehicle positioning on the road,” Torpy said.
Anthony Martinez, 45, of El Prado was arrested at the scene and charged with aggravated assault. The victims included two male bicyclists, 48 and 53 years of age. Neither was injured, according to police.
“Mr. Martinez will be arraigned in Magistrate Court within 10 days,” Deputy Chief Kevin Purtymun said. “Aggravated assault is a fourth degree felony and if convicted, the sentence could be as high as three years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.”
According to reports at the scene, the truck driver passed closely to the bicyclists and they in turn voiced their displeasure. The truck driver slammed on his brakes and the melee ensued.
“Los Alamos County Code requires motorists to allow bicyclists a five-foot leeway,” Purtymun said.
Los Alamos County Transportation Board Chair Khal Spencer is a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists and local promoter of driving and bicycling roadway safety values. He spoke out about the road rage incident.
“The universal rule of thumb is to cooperate out there and don’t get spun up – road rage gets out of control real fast,” Spencer said. “I’m just glad no one was hurt in this incident.”

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com